April 11, 2018, 11:47 pm
It’s over! The Wolves have finally done it! 14 years of agony and anguish, but also a little patience, has finally resulted in the elusive playoff appearance for a franchise that was down in the dumps for years.
The wait has been 14 years, but this process has been four years in the making. It started when the Wolves decided to reset the rebuild around Kevin Love and pivot to a rebuild around a younger core.
Andrew Wiggins was the first piece to the puzzle, acquired in the Love trade. Wiggins may not have developed as fast as some have liked, but he’s been a valuable contributor to this playoff squad.
Tonight Wiggins scored 18 points, five rebounds, three assists and three 3-pointers, but most of all he made the two biggest free throws of his young career. In a two-point game in overtime, Wiggins was fouled and had a chance to put the Wolves up four points with 11 second. A 64 percent shooter on the season, he calmly sank both.
His defensive intensity was off the charts as well. He was fully engaged all night and held Wilson Chandler scoreless in 48 minutes. Fans have been waiting for this version of Wiggins to consistently arrive, and tonight he was everything they could ask for.
The next piece to the puzzle was drafting Karl-Anthony Towns with the first overall pick. KAT has obviously been on monster in his three-year career and was able to feast on the Nuggets all night long. He finished with 26 points, 14 rebounds, two assists and one steal on 12-of-19 shooting.
KAT is feasting! pic.twitter.com/lA7pUO5pJT
— Hoop Ball Wolves (@HoopBallWolves) April 12, 2018
Towns is one of the best big men in the NBA and is just 22 years old. He’s the face of the franchise and has a chance to become not just an all-time great in Wolves’ history, but in the entire NBA.
His averages of 21.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 blocks, 0.8 steals and 1.5 3-pointers on 54.5 percent shooting, 85.8 free throw shooting and 42.1 3-point shooting is matched by few other big men, but his 82 games played is what sets him apart. KAT isn’t only a special talent, he’s as dependable as they come.
Building around two No. 1 overall picks is a great starting point for any franchise, but the Wolves weren’t satisfied. They had a number of other complimentary pieces, but desired to add one more major player in an era of “Big Three’s” and “Super Teams,” so they went out and got the final piece to the puzzle, Jimmy Butler.
Butler was able to transform this team from a 31 win team into a 47 win team, and a playoff squad. The Wolves had the biggest jump in the win column in the tough Western Conference thanks to him. Butler’s intensity and every day mentality didn’t grow on the Wolves right away, but when it mattered most the young Wolves who remained were ready.
The Wolves went out and got Butler for games just like this one, and he delivered with 31 points, five assists, five rebounds, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer on 10-of-21 shooting and 10-of-13 at the line.
After missing 17 games down the stretch, Butler returned just three games ago. He had been limited to 23 minutes in the first two games, but tonight he played 42. The Wolves went 3-0 in his return.
While Butler as the final piece to the puzzle, his addition attracted other veteran additions, namely Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson. Both vets stepped up huge tonight. Teague shows up more in the box score, but Gibson had perhaps the most important defensive effort of the season.
Coming off an injury in the last game that limited him to eighth minutes, Gibson was playing at less than 100 percent, but refused to slow down. Like Butler, Taj was brought in to do the dirty work and he was able to deliver there.
The game was tightly contested throughout, but the Wolves did hold a lead most of the way. In fact late in the fourth Minnesota build an eight-point lead and things were looking bleak for Denver. After a timeout the Nuggets came out on an 8-0 run to tie the game.
After trading baskets, the Wolves and Butler had a chance to win the game. His shot bounced off and the Nuggets controlled the ball with four seconds left. That’s where Taj came in with the most important steal of the season.
— Kevin Brand (@KBranded) April 12, 2018
The game then went to overtime where the Wolves were able to handle their business, thanks to Wiggins’ free throws, and clinch their elusive playoff berth.
Wolves break NBA's longest postseason absence and holy crap is it about damn time pic.twitter.com/QSLQF3Tv9Q
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) April 12, 2018
The rebuild is finally complete. The first goal has been met. That doesn’t mean there isn’t more growth to come. This was step one in the process, now the Wolves have to make sure this becomes a regular occurrence.
Their matchup won’t be easy. With the Pelicans and Thunder winning, the Wolves are seeded eighth in the Western Conference and will face the top seed Houston Rockets.
Houston is 4-0 versus the Wolves this season, but each game Minnesota was able to get more and more competitive. The playoffs begin this weekend.
June 19, 2019, 8:54 amTomas Satoransky - G/F - Washington Wizards
As expected, Tomas Satoransky was included in Czech Republic’s preliminary squad for the FIBA Basketball World Cup which will take place in China this summer.
The 20-man roster also includes former first round pick Jan Vesely and big man Petr Herman, who is back in Europe after playing four years of college basketball at Loyola Marymount. Czech Republic will participate in Group E against the United States, Turkey and Japan. Sato is entering free agency this summer and it’s likely that he is able to secure a deal before the start of the World Cup.
June 19, 2019, 8:33 amAl Horford - F/C - Boston Celtics
A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston, is reporting that a team to keep an eye on in the Al Horford sweepstakes is the Nets.
Horford is close to head coach Kenny Atkinson while the team has the cap space to offer him a max contract but this is simply a rumor at this point. The belief around the league is that Horford already knows there is a four-year contract worth in excess of $100 million waiting out there for him on June 30h and that’s why his negotiations with the Celtics fell apart. The sudden appearance of the Dominican center in the free agent market seems to have caught many of us off guard but it’s likely that some NBA teams have been preparing for this turn of events.
Source: A. Sherrod Blakely on Twitter
June 18, 2019, 10:44 pmKevin Love - F/C - Cleveland Cavaliers
According to Brian Windhorst, Kevin Love has been in some trade talks and the chances that he's on the Cavs next season are 50/50.
Windhorst mentioned that it's hard to find the right deal for Love, who is set to start a 4-year $120 million contract this fall, but that's a much bigger chance of him leaving than had been recently reported. The Cavs likely have some summer deals to make, but as it sits now, the fantasy values of Larry Nance Jr. and Ante Zizic would be on the rise with a Love departure.
Source: Aaron Goldhammer on Twitter
June 18, 2019, 10:01 pmBobby Portis - F - Washington Wizards
Bobby Portis, who will likely become a restricted free agent after the Wizards extend a qualifying offer, is expected to be pursued by at least 5-10 teams once free agency begins.
Among the teams that are reportedly interested in Portis are the Lakers, Clippers, Jazz, Bucks, Magic and the Knicks among others. If the Wizards extend the $3.6 million qualifying offer to Portis, they will have the chance to match any contract offer Portis receives from another team.
Source: NBC Sports
June 18, 2019, 8:55 pmKyrie Irving - G - Boston Celtics
Marc Stein of The New York Times is reporting that the Nets believe they are the favorites to land Kyrie Irving in free agency.
Irving to the Nets has been on overdrive the past few weeks, and it's looking almost certain that Irving will be on the Nets, Lakers or Knicks come July 1st. D'Angelo Russell may be playing elsewhere next season if the Nets acquire Irving in free agency. Stay tuned.
Source: Marc Stein on Twitter
June 18, 2019, 8:20 pmRob Pelinka - Team - Los Angeles Lakers
Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Lakers are aggressively pursuing the purchase of second-round picks in Thursday’s draft.
In addition to trying to unload additional bench players, the Lakers would like to acquire a few second-round picks to round out their roster with minimum salary players. If the Lakers can get any late picks, it will give the team even more breathing room in free agency. The Lakers’ master plan after signing LeBron James last offseason is starting to shift into high gear.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
June 18, 2019, 8:13 pmAnthony Davis - F/C - Los Angeles Lakers
Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Lakers are trying to expand the Anthony Davis trade to open up a max salary slot on July 6, by offering up Mo Wagner, Jemerrio Jones and Isaac Bonga to additional teams.
The Lakers got their guy in AD, but they also want more wiggle room for another max guy and role players to fill out their roster. It seems that the team will do whatever it takes to get that third max player spot, aside from moving Kyle Kuzma. It seems very likely that another team will join in on the deal.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
June 18, 2019, 7:56 pmKyrie Irving - G - Boston Celtics
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, since the season ended, Kyrie Irving has been communicating forthrightly with Celtics' officials both privately and publicly signaling that he will leave the team in free agency.
It has been widely expected that Irving would leave the Celtics for a bit now, with the Nets being the team most analysts are pegging Irving end up with. With the news that Al Horford is going elsewhere, there is little reason to believe that Irving would stick around. We should have an official update on Irving's intentions soon enough.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
June 18, 2019, 7:35 pmAl Horford - F/C - Boston Celtics
Sources close to Al Horford have told Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald that his camp is no longer discussing a new contract with the Celtics and he is expected to sign a 4-year deal elsewhere.
A few short months ago the Celtics were pegged as the favorites to land Anthony Davis, and forming a new big three of there own. Flash forward to now, and Davis is on the Lakers, and it looks like both Horford and Kyrie Irving are set to leave. The Celtics couldn't have foreseen a worse start to the offseason.
Source: Steve Bulpett on Twitter
June 18, 2019, 7:03 pmJames Jones - Team - Phoenix Suns
First-year GM James Jones said that there are more than six good players in the draft and that the Suns are comfortable staying put at number six.
Jones has a point, and if the team believes that they don’t need to move up to get the difference-maker that they’re targeting then staying put is the logical choice. If the Suns stand pat, they’ll be looking at drafting one of Darius Garland, Coby White, De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish and Jarrett Culver. Garland or White would fill the most glaring team need at PG if they’re still available.
Source: AZ Central